The Book of Lost Names is one of those books that you just know you’ll be thinking of long after you close the cover. It’s the kind of book that years later, something will jog your memory and make you think of it.
It isn’t a light or easy read. As with all WWII set books, its one in which you’re constantly fearing for nearly every character’s life. I’ve read so many books set in Nazi occupied France at this point, that with each novel I find my heart pumping and my adrenaline up each time a character steps outside, or there’s a knock at the door, or they feel suspicious about a fellow townsperson.
This novel focuses on Eva Traube, a student working towards becoming a librarian. When the Nazi’s begin mass arrests in Paris, she’s forced to forge documents and flee to the free area of France. Upon arriving, she learns she has quite the knack for forgery. As she tries to rescue her family and help save innocent lives, she becomes more deeply embedded in the Resistance. As she forms relationships with unexpected people, her worldview is challenged and more difficult choices are on the horizon.
This book was engrossing, with a heart-pounding plot full of historically accurate details. From the forgery rings to the smuggling of children across the Swiss border, my nerves are absolutely shot after finishing it. Within the heavy content, little gems for fellow book lovers are sprinkled. The way Eva thinks about books transcends time and place, and it’s always a big magical to find a character who loves books just as much as you do. Each character and setting are intricately detailed and believable, to the point that I was surprised to find that Aurignon, the town where Eva hides, is fictional instead of real.
Like any war-set novel, it is at times hard to read. But that is why we must keep reading these stories, fictional and true alike: so we can remember the horror that some people chose, and see the hope that others provided and persevered with. It’s a reminder that we always have a choice, whether its passive disobedience or fighting hate with hope.
If you enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, you’ll likely enjoy Kristin Harmel’s The Book of Lost Names. It’s also one of those books just begging to be made into a movie.
The Book of Lost Names was initially out of stock, but it’s now available again! I highly recommend it.